2016 Memorial Day Women’s Football Playoff Preview
It’s that time again…my annual mega-monstrous 2016 women’s football playoff preview!
One of my favorite things about women’s football is Memorial Day weekend. Many teams and leagues have a light schedule due to the long holiday weekend, so it’s a time to take a deep breath, reassess, and prepare for the stretch run of the regular season with the playoffs only about two or three weeks away. Memorial Day weekend is almost like an annual women’s football two-minute warning before the end of the regular season.
Anyway, we’re going to take a look and see how every league (and every tier) has progressed thus far and check out the playoff picture with mere weeks to go. Let’s get started!
WFA1 Playoff Preview
Every week, I compile a Top Ten ranking for WFA1 and WFA2 and publish it in my Facebook group, the Women’s Gridiron Football Group. But people may not realize that I also include in those posts the playoff rankings…which gives you an idea every week of how the brackets would look if the playoffs started today.
Here are the current WFA1 playoff rankings with two weeks left in the regular season:
WFA1 Playoff Rankings
1. D.C. Divas (6-1)
2. Chicago Force (6-1)
3. Boston Renegades (5-2)
4. Pittsburgh Passion (6-1)
5. Atlanta Phoenix (4-3)
6. Cleveland Fusion (2-4)
Western Conference – Midwest Region
1. Dallas Elite (7-0)
3. Kansas City Titans (4-1)
6. Arlington Impact (4-2)
Western Conference – Pacific Region
2. Central Cal War Angels (6-0)
4. Pacific Warriors (5-1)
5. Portland Fighting Shockwave (6-0)
WFA1 Playoff Preview – East
In the National (Eastern) Conference, all six WFA1 teams will make the playoffs (for reasons I explained previously). Everything is nearly set in stone…seeds 3-6 are pretty much locked in. However, it’s still mathematically possible that Chicago could jump D.C. for the top spot in the East, despite the Divas’ head-to-head victory over Chicago earlier this year.
The reason is because the Divas came away with a narrow 35-32 victory over Boston in Week 3, but last weekend, the Force clobbered Boston, 58-14. Now, obviously, this was largely due to Chicago taking advantage of Boston quarterback Allison Cahill’s devastating, season-ending shoulder injury, but Massey doesn’t know that. It’s one of Massey’s very few weaknesses…it obviously has no way to take into account an injury of that magnitude.
Despite that, Massey still has the Divas ranked #1 in the East by virtue of their undefeated record against conference foes, while Chicago is a somewhat close #2. In a mark of smart scheduling, the WFA has matched up Boston-D.C. and Chicago-Pittsburgh in Week 10, two very strong games to close out the regular season. Should the Divas struggle (or lose) to a Cahill-less Renegades team, it’s entirely possible that Chicago could jump them. Otherwise, the Divas’ head-to-head win (and absurdly strong strength-of-schedule) will win them home field advantage in the East. In other words, the Divas control their own destiny here.
Chicago will try to lay it on Pittsburgh and hope for the best. Regardless, both the Force and the Divas have locked themselves into a top-two seed and a quarterfinal bye. I don’t see any way that Boston, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Cleveland swap seeds before the end of the year. Boston has the head-to-head win over Pittsburgh and a much tougher strength of schedule; the Renegades have played each of the other top four seeds (D.C., Chicago, and Pittsburgh) and are set to play D.C. a second time, while the Passion have only played Boston so far of the top four seeds. Atlanta is a solid #5, while Cleveland is the only team in WFA1 with a losing overall record.
I think those four teams are pretty well set, 3 through 6, in that order. That means the East quarterfinal games will likely be Cleveland at Boston and Atlanta at Pittsburgh. The Atlanta/Pittsburgh winner would travel to face the top seed in the semifinal round, while the #2 seed would host the Boston/Cleveland winner. That’s how the WFA1 East is shaping up.
WFA1 Playoff Preview – West
Over in the West, they are divided into two regions for travel purposes – the Midwest and the Pacific. In the Midwest, the Dallas Elite are rolling toward another undefeated regular season. The overall #1 team in the nation has already convincingly defeated both Kansas City and Arlington, so their path to the American (Western) Conference title game should hold no surprises.
Arlington will likely travel to Kansas City for a conference quarterfinal game, which should prove to be entertaining. The Titans, led by the Sowers twins, went to Dallas earlier in the year and gave the Elite a competitive game, notching 20 points…the most points scored against Dallas this year, even more than the Divas put up in their loss to the Elite in Week 2. Still, Dallas is an overwhelming favorite to host their second straight conference title game.
In the Pacific region, Central Cal has all but locked themselves into the top spot in the region and the #2 overall seed in the West. They end the regular season with a game against Pacific, but unless Pacific wins convincingly, Central Cal should secure the conference’s second quarterfinal bye.
On the other hand, the battle between Portland and Pacific will be interesting to watch, as they are not separated by much in the ratings, and whoever finishes higher will earn home field advantage in the conference quarterfinals. Pacific is in the driver’s seat and controls their own destiny here, not only because they are slightly above Portland at the moment but because they finish the year against Central Cal. Pacific can sew up the #2 seed in the region with a good showing in defeat or (obviously) an upset win over the highly-ranked War Angels.
Portland, conversely, will try to finish the regular season strong with a victory over the Seattle Majestics, who look like they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The Fighting Shockwave have had a tremendous year, going undefeated and stamping themselves as the region’s top team, yet they may still find themselves traveling for a conference quarterfinal matchup.
This is largely due to the weak strength of schedule in the Pacific Northwest, and I have to say, I think this is another area where Massey is being fairly logical. With all due respect to Portland, teams in the Pacific Northwest have historically struggled in the playoffs against teams from outside of their region. Until Portland changes that, California teams are going to get the benefit of the doubt.
It’s interesting that all three undefeated teams in WFA1 are in the West – Dallas, Central Cal, and Portland. That’s largely due to three teams dominating in three separate neighborhoods. Massey has them ranked in that order, and I think that’s fair at this point. Overall, you have to feel that the Dallas Elite are strong favorites to become the first team to repeat as Western Conference champs since the San Diego Surge in 2011-2012.
Finally, probably too soon to project a possible Alliance Bowl, which is between one team from each conference who doesn’t make the conference title game. I’d imagine the invites would go to whichever of D.C., Chicago, and Pittsburgh doesn’t make the championship game in the East, and the loser of the Pacific Region title game (Central Cal, Pacific, or Portland) in the West.
WFA2 Playoff Preview
I’m going to be honest…I think the WFA2 playoffs have the potential to be just as compelling and exciting as the WFA1 playoffs. There’s a great mix of outstanding teams on this tier of play. Here are the current WFA2 playoff rankings with two weeks left in the regular season:
WFA2 Playoff Rankings
1. Philadelphia Phantomz (4-3)
2. Tampa Bay Inferno (7-0)
3. Alabama Fire (6-1)
4. Indy Crash (3-4)
5. Columbus Comets (4-3)
6. Jacksonville Dixie Blues (5-2)
Western Conference – Midwest Region
1. St. Louis Slam (3-2)
5. Houston Power (1-4)
Western Conference – Pacific Region
2. Sin City Trojans (3-4)
3. Mile High Blaze (4-2)
4. West Coast Lightning (2-5)
WFA2 Playoff Preview – East
So the WFA announced last week that WFA2 would follow the same playoff format as WFA1. The only change to what was previously anticipated is that the WFA2 East would be seeded as one large group rather than two regions (Northeast and Southeast).
I’m not exactly sure why the WFA decided to make that switch. Yes, it’s nice that the WFA2 format is identical to WFA1’s, but teams out here on the East Coast have travel cost concerns, too. And unlike WFA1 (which only has one Southeastern club, the Atlanta Phoenix), there are a host of Southeast teams competing in WFA2 who would make a two-region setup in the East much better than lumping them all together.
For now (and remember, these seedings can change greatly over the next two weeks), the one-region setup in the East yields the same result that a two-region setup would have, anyway, because the #2, #3, and #6 seeds in the conference are from the Southeast while #1, #4, and #5 seeds are from the Northeast. It would be nice if it remains that way from a travel standpoint, but the flip of just one seed could send Jacksonville all the way up to Indy and Columbus way down to Alabama.
Anyway, the seedings in the East in WFA2 are much more fluid and up in the air than they are in WFA1. Right now, Philadelphia has a solid lock on the top seed in the WFA2 East…respectable showings, even in defeat, in three games against the Boston Renegades and D.C. Divas have earned them the top billing. They’ll almost certainly have a quarterfinal bye and home field advantage throughout.
The other quarterfinal bye comes down to Tampa Bay and Alabama. The undefeated Inferno are in the #2 spot right now, but not by much. They likely control their own destiny, as they close the regular season against the Jacksonville Dixie Blues, a team currently projected as a playoff squad. If Tampa shows out well, they will probably hold off Alabama for the top seed.
The Alabama Fire have been charging of late, boosted by a 34-18 win over Atlanta. But their lone loss to Atlanta earlier in the season will probably keep them in the #3 spot if Tampa impresses in their finale.
Barring something unexpected, it looks like Indy and Columbus are pretty well locked into the #4 and #5 seeds, which would mean an opening-round playoff game between them. They are very close in the rankings, however, which will determine who gets to host the game. Despite a losing overall record, Indy’s very solid SOS (with their four losses coming to Chicago twice, Kansas City, and St. Louis) is currently giving them the edge.
But the Columbus Comets finish the regular season with their instate rivals, the Cleveland Fusion. They lost to Cleveland a few weeks ago, 27-8, but if the Comets could pull the upset here, I think it could be enough to launch them into the #4 spot and snatch home field away from the Crash.
Finally, the Jacksonville Dixie Blues sit in the #6 and final seed in the WFA2 East. They finish with Tampa, and a respectable showing should lock up a playoff berth for them. But despite a 2-3 record, the West Michigan Mayhem are right on their heels. The Mayhem were projected into the playoffs until last weekend’s devastating 35-0 loss to the Columbus Comets, which dropped them outside the playoff picture. West Michigan finishes the year with the Kansas City Titans, however, and an impressive showing along with a stumble by Jacksonville could put them right back into the playoffs.
If the playoffs started today, the #6 Jacksonville Dixie Blues would have a conference quarterfinal game at the #3 Alabama Fire. But ironically, if Jacksonville plays well in their regular season finale against Tampa, it might be enough to knock Tampa down to the #3 seed and force a rematch in the opening round of the playoffs. The other possibility is that the West Michigan Mayhem nose into the spot and prepare for a long road trip south, likely to face Alabama.
Meanwhile, the Indy Crash are likely to open against the Columbus Comets in the other quarterfinal in what should be an entertaining game. The Indy-Columbus winner would then travel to face Philadelphia in a semifinal contest, while the southern teams (and possibly West Michigan) duke it out in the other conference semi.
WFA2 Playoff Preview – West
Let’s turn our attention to the WFA2 West, where the bracket is a little skimpier. The WFA2 West is divided into two regions, just like WFA1. But with WFA2, there are only two teams in the Midwest Region, which means no conference quarterfinal game there. It begs the question as to why the WFA felt the need to eliminate the regional setup in WFA2 East – where there is a nice balance of competitive teams in the Northeast and Southeast – but not in the WFA2 West, where the Midwest Region is barren as can be.
In the WFA2 Midwest Region, you only have two teams – the St. Louis Slam and the Houston Power. The Slam are the top seed in the entire Western Conference, so they have a pretty nice path to the conference title game. Not only do they get a first-round bye, but they know who they’re going to play in the conference semifinals…the Houston Power.
As for the Power, well, it’s been a tough year, to say the least. They have split with the WFA3 Austin Outlaws, with their victory over Austin their only win so far this year. They lost to Dallas twice (including a forfeit loss, which is never good) and to Arlington. No shame in those losses, but if they don’t get a win Memorial Day weekend against the WFA3 Acadiana Zydeco, they’ll potentially hit the playoffs as a one-win team.
All of this is great news for the Slam, of course…Massey currently has them favored in a potential matchup with Houston by 40 points. Like the Elite in the same region in WFA1, the Slam are heavy favorites in the Midwest.
In the WFA2’s Pacific Region, things are considerably more exciting, if predictable. The Sin City Trojans have all but locked up the #1 seed in the region and an opening-round bye. The Trojans, despite a four-game losing streak, have played respectably and shown a little of the Showgirlz swagger during a brutal stretch of four straight contests against Pacific and Central Cal, and that strength of schedule has given them the benefit of the doubt in the Pacific Region.
With a 4-2 record, the Mile High Blaze have pretty much locked themselves into the #2 spot in the region. The Blaze out of Denver have been a strong entry in their first year in the WFA, with their only losses coming at the hands of Kansas City.
The final playoff spot in the WFA2 West will come down to the West Coast Lightning and Everett Reign, who are very, very close in the rankings. The Lightning are currently sitting in the final playoff spot with a 2-5 record, but their losses to Central Cal (twice), Pacific (twice) and Sin City are no great shame. They finish with the Ventura County Wolfpack and are expected to win easily, which could be enough to land them a playoff berth.
However, the 1-5 Everett Reign actually control their own destiny for the last spot. The Reign dropped their first five games – two losses each to Portland and Seattle and a heartbreaking 20-18 loss to the Southern Oregon Lady Renegades. Everett got their first win last week at the Tacoma Trauma, and Everett finishes the season with back-to-back home games against Southern Oregon and Tacoma. If Everett can win both and do so in impressive fashion, it could push the 3-5 Reign past West Coast and into the WFA2 West playoffs.
Whoever comes out ahead in the Everett-West Coast race would open the playoffs in Denver against the Mile High Blaze. The winner of that game would square off in Vegas against Sin City, with the WFA2 Pacific Region champion likely traveling to St. Louis for the conference championship.
WFA3 Playoff Preview
Last week the WFA announced the WFA3 playoff structure…sort of. They announced that it would be a four-team bracket: two teams from the East and two from the West. What they didn’t state was how those teams would be chosen…probably because the teams in this tier are so young and small that it might come down to who can make the trips that need to be made.
Nevertheless, let’s take a few guesses. Here are the teams in each conference of WFA3 by current Massey ranking:
Richmond Black Widows
Flint City Riveters
Southern Oregon Lady Renegades
Ventura County Wolfpack
In the WFA3 East, Richmond and Keystone are rated well above Daytona, and they actually played a competitive and entertaining game in Harrisburg last week, which went to Richmond by a 12-0 score. A rematch in Richmond for the WFA3 East championship is a reasonable bet and would be a great matchup.
The WFA3 West is much more problematic. As with the WFA3 East, the top two teams in the conference – Acadiana and Southern Oregon – are rated far ahead of the #3 seed, in this case, the Austin Outlaws. But the problem with Acadiana and Southern Oregon is that they are located literally half a country away. Right now, Acadiana is ranked higher, which would give them home field advantage, but the two teams have been flipping in the rankings all year and Southern Oregon is close enough that they could reasonably overtake the Zydeco by the end of the regular season.
So here’s the big question: can either of these teams reasonable afford a cross-country trip to play in the WFA3 West title game…especially knowing that a win would mean yet another trip a few weeks later to Pittsburgh? Hmmm…hard to say. I can’t see either Acadiana or Southern Oregon wanting to bow out and surrender the title without a fight, but I don’t know if either would be willing to incur the kind of travel costs it would take to win the championship as the #2 seed, either. Long story short, Massey may wind up deciding the WFA3 West championship this year.
Regardless, a Richmond/Keystone vs. Acadiana/Southern Oregon game in Pittsburgh would be a nice showcase for the small-market/expansion teams in the WFA this season.
IWFL Playoff Preview
Oh, the IWFL. It’s almost like they don’t even want fans to be interested in their league. Regular readers of this site may remember the difficulty I had before the season trying to figure out how the IWFL was going to structure their playoffs.
Well, we’re about two and a half weeks from the start of the IWFL playoffs. We should have a pretty good idea of what the playoff structure is going to be, right? Go to the playoff section of the IWFL’s website, and you’ll be greeted by the following statement: “2016 information coming soon!”
Thanks, IWFL! Helpful as always! Fortunately, I’m here to bring clarity to the situation in spite of Kezia Disney’s ineptitude. It’s a full-time job, but someone has to do it.
So the IWFL has four divisions this year – two in the East and two in the West. With only division champions competing, that would mean just four playoff teams…the smallest number the IWFL has had in any season in their 16-year history. But, as luck would have it, there will likely be five…but we’ll get to that in a minute.
The IWFL determines division champions by straight record only, so toss Massey (and any consideration of SOS) out the window. Here, then, are the teams in all four divisions of the IWFL by current record:
Carolina Phoenix (6-0)
New York Sharks (6-0)
Montreal Blitz (6-2)
Carolina Queens (3-3)
Washington Prodigy (3-3)
Baltimore Nighthawks (2-4)
Philadelphia Firebirds (0-6)
Minnesota Vixen (5-0)
Madison Blaze (4-2)
Iowa Crush (2-3)
Tennessee Train (2-4)
Detroit Pride (1-4)
Austin Yellow Jackets (4-0)
Houston Wildcats (4-1)
Nebraska Stampede (4-1)
Rocky Mountain Thunderkatz (3-3)
Houston Energy (3-3)
Colorado Freeze (1-5)
Tulsa Threat (1-5)
Utah Falconz (5-0)
Carson Bobcats (5-0)
North County Stars (4-2)
Phoenix Phantomz (2-3)
Sacramento Sirens (1-4)
Bakersfield Bombers (0-4)
Nevada Storm (0-4)
IWFL Playoff Preview – East
The IWFL playoff picture in the East is pretty straightforward, actually. The New York Sharks and Carolina Phoenix actually play on June 4 in Carolina. That game is for the Atlantic Division title and a berth in the Eastern Conference championship game. It should be a great battle between two undefeated teams.
In the Midwest Division, it’s a two-horse race between the Minnesota Vixen and the Madison Blaze, with the Vixen possessing a two-game lead and a head-to-head victory over the Blaze. Basically, Minnesota needs to win two of their final three games to clinch the title…or to just beat Madison in their rematch June 4. Even a loss to Madison by less than 21 points and one win down the stretch would be enough to give the Vixen a berth in the Eastern Conference title game.
Okay…you may not understand the magnitude of all this just from what I’ve laid out above, so it’s time to geek out on some women’s football history.
The Minnesota Vixen are the longest-running team in women’s football; they, along with the now-defunct Lake Michigan Minx, played the first game in modern women’s football history on October 9, 1999. However, when people are told of the Vixen’s long history, people often erroneously think that they’ve been a strong team within the sport. Actually, the Vixen have struggled on the field for most of their 18-year history, coming into this season 25 games below .500 all-time with a 55-80 record.
The Vixen’s struggles date back to the very genesis of the franchise. Here’s the story I’ve received from multiple players who were there in 1999: the Minnesota Vixen (then called the Vixens) were founded along with the Minx as inaugural members of the Women’s Professional Football League (WPFL), and the people running the WPFL wanted to have the Vixens become a “dynasty” for marketing purposes. Apparently, the plan all along was for the Minx to survive no more than one year, while it was known that the Vixens were going to carry on into the future.
So the organizers of the WPFL clearly stacked the Vixens roster with superior athletes and gave the leftovers to the Minx. But that plan backfired on the organizers. The players chosen for the Minx were left with a severe chip on their shoulders, and they played with a cohesion and intensity the Vixens lacked. Long story short, the Minx won every game played against Minnesota that year…and the WPFL’s “dynastic” team wound up going winless in their first season.
The Vixens played in the 1999 WPFL championship game, of course, but that was by default: the league only had two teams, so the Vixens-Minx game was preordained. The Minnesota Vixen have not returned to a national championship game since…it’s been 17 years since the Vixen last had a shot at a title.
In 2000, the Vixen, with a year’s worth of experience ahead of most of their WPFL league-mates, made it to the WPFL’s American (Western) Conference championship game, where they fell to the Houston Energy. The Vixen have made only one other conference title game appearance in franchise history: a 14-12 loss to the New York Dazzles in the 2005 WPFL National (Eastern) Conference title game.
So the Minnesota Vixen have an 0-2 record all-time in conference title games. The Vixen have made only three playoff appearances since 2000 and none since 2008, although they’ve made a couple of bowl game/Founder’s Bowl tournament appearances since then.
Why am I telling you all of this? Believe it or not, it’s not to degrade the Vixen…on the contrary, it’s to celebrate what I think is one of the great Cinderella stories of the women’s football season. To have the longest-standing team in the history of the sport – whose own history has been mostly loaded with heartache and coming up short – witnessing a season for the ages in their 18th year is something pretty special. Come on, that’s pretty cool.
But wait! It gets even better. The Vixen are the longest-running team in women’s football history, but guess who’s second? The New York Sharks, of course! The Sharks have had a considerably more storied history…with 117 wins, they are the winningest team in women’s football history (one win ahead of my beloved D.C. Divas, who stand at 116 victories all-time). The Sharks had a tremendous run from 2002-2007, playing in six straight conference title games and claiming the IWFL national championship back in 2002.
Since 2007, however, the Sharks have fallen on more difficult times. They have only played in one conference title game since 2007: they lost in the 2014 IWFL Eastern Conference title game to the Pittsburgh Passion, 26-12. A move to the IWFL has helped their overall record the past three years but has not quenched their thirst for their first conference title since 2004.
The Sharks and Vixen are the only two remaining, active women’s football teams that were founded back in 1999. The Sharks’ first game came on December 11, 1999, when they defeated the Minnesota Vixens in New York by a 12-6 count.
Now here’s the catch…these two teams haven’t played since. That’s right…the Sharks and Vixen have not met again since that first meeting 17 years ago. I thought for sure that when the Sharks moved to the IWFL in 2014 – rejoining the league that held the Vixen – that the two would be paired up in some kind of postseason bowl game, just for historical purposes. And that probably would have already happened in a league with competent leadership, but alas, it was not to be.
Fortunately, the women’s football deities are one game away from making it happen anyway. If the Sharks defeat the Carolina Phoenix on June 4, we will almost certainly have a Vixen-Sharks matchup in the 2016 IWFL Eastern Conference title game. That contest would likely happen in Minnesota (thanks to the absurdly antiquated tiebreaker of fewest points allowed), which would mean that the New York Sharks would finally be going to Minnesota for the “return game” from their first meeting in New York 17 years earlier.
I don’t care who you are…that’s a pretty terrific backstory, right? A league could and should make national waves promoting a game like that. I have little to no faith in the IWFL leadership being able to do so, but for the good of the sport, I’d like to be wrong. Shoot, I almost wish I still lived in Iowa so I could see that game myself.
Of course, none of this happens if the Carolina Phoenix beat the New York Sharks on June 4, and that could very well happen. The Phoenix are a great organization, and I love the players and staff they have down there. Nothing but love for them…but for the historian in me, I’ll admit that I’d love to see the Sharks-Vixen matchup.
Back to reality…the IWFL Eastern Conference championship will likely come down to the Vixen hosting the winner of the June 4 matchup between the New York Sharks and the Carolina Phoenix.
IWFL Playoff Preview – West
The playoff picture in the IWFL’s Eastern Conference is actually pretty simple. The West is considerably murkier.
Let’s start in the Central Division, where the Austin Yellow Jackets are on top of the pack with an undefeated record, followed close behind by the one-loss Houston Wildcats and Nebraska Stampede. Austin’s biggest win to date is a 22-12 victory at home over the Wildcats, and their return game in Houston was postponed on account of weather. Other than that game, the Yellow Jackets look to have a manageable schedule down the stretch. But then, so do the Houston Wildcats…and that’s where things get interesting.
I said on the podcast above that a win by Houston – by any margin – would force a one-game playoff between the two teams. That was what my IWFL sources were telling me at that time.
But in the ever-shifting world that is Kezia Disney’s playoff bracket, sources now tell me the current plan is that if the Houston Wildcats win by less than ten points (or lose, obviously), Austin would retain the tiebreaker over Houston without requiring an extra playoff game. If Houston beats Austin by more than ten, the Wildcats would trump Austin. If Houston beats Austin by exactly ten, I think Kezia flips a coin. I’m joking, but not entirely.
The Nebraska Stampede are the spanner in the works. It’s been quite a year for the Stampede…up until around February, they weren’t even projected to have a team. They decided at the last minute to go ahead and field a team in the IWFL, but they certainly got a late start.
The Stampede competed last season in what is now the Midwest Division, with teams like Iowa and Minnesota. Geographically, that makes total sense. However, internal dissention within the league (dissention I’m told stems from animosity between the Nebraska and Iowa organizations over a game played last year) led to the Stampede being allowed to compete, but only in the Western Conference’s Central Division, rather than against their geographic peers in the East. I can’t confirm the animosity between Iowa and Nebraska, but I can tell you that the two teams aren’t playing this year, despite how closely located they are.
Anyway, the Stampede lost their season opener at home against the only Eastern Conference team on their schedule, the Madison Blaze. No one thought much of it until the Stampede proceeded to run the table from that point on, defeating their two competitors from Colorado and, stunningly, upsetting the Blaze in Madison.
So now we have a one-loss Nebraska Stampede team that is undefeated against Western Conference foes. Obviously, if Austin defeats Houston and finishes the season undefeated, they’re the division champs. But what if Houston beats Austin and all three finish the year with one loss? The tiebreaker between Houston and Austin would be decided by head-to-head margin of victory, but what about Nebraska? Would they get a piece of the action?
As usual in the IWFL, no one knows. Well, maybe someone does, but certainly the fans don’t. Ah, but who cares about them, am I right? Anyway, we’ll just have to wait and see how that all shakes out.
The Pacific Division is more clear-cut, but it also has the potential to balloon the playoff field. Long story short, the Utah Falconz and Carson Bobcats are both steamrolling toward an undefeated regular season record, but in their infinite wisdom, the IWFL decided not to have these two division teams actually play. So we might get two undefeated teams within the same division.
The IWFL only wants division champs in their playoffs, but they can hardly keep one of the undefeated teams out. So if both Carson and Utah go undefeated, they’ll have them play it out in a conference semifinal game, with the winner advancing to the Western Conference championship. If it comes to that, it’s almost certain Utah would host, given the IWFL’s absurd reliance on the fewest points allowed metric.
That would be an outstanding game, given how both teams have fared this year. It would certainly be the toughest game either team has played all season long. Given that Utah would likely host and the fact that they have throttled teams en route to an undefeated record (while Carson has had to fight a little harder to maintain their unblemished mark), you’d have to favor Utah in that matchup. Still, it would probably be a heck of a fun game to watch.
The Western Conference championship game would pit the Utah/Carson winner against (probably, assuming the IWFL ignores Nebraska) the winner of the June 18 makeup game between the Houston Wildcats and Austin Yellow Jackets, with Austin spotted a ten-point edge due to the win in their previous meeting.
Once all that shakes out, you’ll have the Founder’s Bowl tournament, but who knows how many teams will be bracketed into that. I’m assuming the Carson/Utah loser would be eligible for that, but again, who knows. If they go with four teams in the Founder’s Bowl tournament, that would pit the Carson/Utah loser against Austin (if they lose out to the Wildcats) or Houston/Nebraska (if Austin goes to the playoffs), while the Eastern part of the Founder’s Bowl would likely pit Madison against the New York/Carolina Sharks loser.
Finally, in the Affiliate Bowl, the Knoxville Lightning (3-2) and the Maine Mayhem (3-3) are the only two affiliate teams with multiple wins, so they are the likely entries for that game, with the one-win San Antonio Regulators on deck.
Other League Playoff Previews – USWFL, WXFL, WPFL, NMAFL-W, and LAFL
The USWFL has seven teams this year, and no, they haven’t announced their playoff bracket or number of teams making the postseason, either. Regardless, here are the current USWFL standings:
Tennessee Legacy (3-0)
New England Nightmare (3-0)
Cincinnati Sizzle (3-0)
West Virginia Wildfire (1-2)
Connecticut Hawks (1-2)
Erie Illusion (0-1)
Southern Indiana Storm (0-3)
Have to give it up for the USWFL’s 4-1 interleague record…it’s making the league standings look a little better than it might otherwise.
It’ll be interesting to see how the league handles three undefeated teams and five teams with at least one win to their names. If I hear anything, I’ll keep you posted.
The WXFL season is over, and the Oklahoma City Lady Force have already taken the crown. It’s their second straight WXFL title, but last year’s was in a two-team league, so this one probably feels a little better.
The WPFL…oh, the WPFL. In like a lion, out like a lamb. The WPFL came onto the women’s football scene with so much hype and promise, but in the end, the league failed to get off the ground in 2016. The league is already vowing a return in 2017, but as always, we’ll see. Maybe they’ll decide to “rebrand” their league name and find a new acronym that doesn’t trade on the branding of one of the iconic leagues in the history of the sport. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one, too.
The NMAFL-W has five teams, although I still don’t have any evidence the Northwest Wolves have actually played a game this season. (They get the award for worst-run team in women’s football this year, as information about them is virtually impossible to find.) They just made their first Facebook post in about two months, however, and they are promoting a home game of the IWFL’s Albuquerque Avengers, so it’s possible the Avengers have absorbed them.
Anyway, here are the current NMAFL-W standings:
Roswell Destroyers (4-0)
Amarillo Lady Punishers (2-2)
Santa Fe Dukes (1-3)
Colorado Springs Voodoo (1-4)
Northwest Wolves (1-1)
The NMAFL-W regular season is supposed to wrap up next weekend. Given the Wolves’ tenuous situation, I would not be surprised to see a four-team playoff bracket among the remaining teams in the league.
Finally, there’s the good old LAFL. Randall Fields’ return to women’s football has featured four teams with the addition of the “Tennessee Thunder”…a rebranding of the WFA3’s now-defunct Tri-Cities Thunder, who are forfeiting out the season. Here are the LAFL standings:
Arkansas Xtra (2-1)
Music City Mizfits (2-2)
Tennessee Thunder (1-1)
Cape Fear Thunder (1-3)
The league announced before the season began that they would have their league semifinals on June 4, but that was long ago and no word on whether or not that’s still the plan.
Whew! Keeping track of seven leagues (or nine, if you count the WFA’s three tiers) is some serious work, but there you have it. Enjoy Memorial Day weekend, and good luck to everyone in women’s football preparing for a playoff run!